Spotlight on Prof. Roger Mason
May 31, 2013 Leave a comment
Professor Roger Mason has been at St Andrews longer than he cares to remember. Born in Aberdeen, he went to Edinburgh University as an undergraduate and, intoxicated by inertia, hung around and did a PhD there as well. He might have remained there indefinitely had not the opportunity arisen to come to St Andrews as a postdoctoral fellow funded by Glenfiddich. His consequent intoxication with St Andrews was confirmed by the offer of permanent employment and his glacial progress through the academic ranks led finally to his elevation to Professor of Scottish History in 2005.
His doctoral and postdoctoral research was on the political culture of late medieval and early modern Scotland and, inertia again, this has remained the focus of his interests ever since. He has worked and published extensively on the Reformation period, editing the political writings of such distinguished St Andrews alums as John Knox and George Buchanan, while also exploring Scottish national identity as it developed from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries.
He has a long-standing interest in Scotland’s relations with England, and teaches an honours module Debating Britain: Anglo-Scottish Unionism 1521-1707 on this theme. He credits himself with having invented the East Lothian Question, but has thus far failed to convince anyone of its importance, let alone that he has the answer to it. However, his views on next year’s referendum will become appropriately opaque to anyone who happens to check out the next issue of the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs.
Professor Mason teaches at all levels of the undergraduate curriculum, and offers the very popular fourth-year special subject MO4807 The Marian Moment: Politics and Ideology in Mary Stewart’s Britain.
He has been keen to make Scottish history an integral part of any St Andrews history degree, if only to remind those who doubt it that St Andrews is in fact located in Scotland (somewhere between Edinburgh and Aberdeen, as it happens). He is equally keen that the general History degree should be seen as the School’s flagship degree, drawing on all the remarkable intellectual resources that History at St Andrews has to offer, while allowing students to range widely over time and space without ever leaving Scotland.
In 2007, enthusiasm triumphing over inertia, Prof. Mason found that he had founded the St Andrews Institute of Scottish Historical Research to act as a focus for the substantial community of staff and research students who are actively working on Scottish history in St Andrews. Now that the Institute is an internationally recognised centre of excellence in the field, Prof Mason is standing down as director. However, rather than spending more time with his family (or least his wife and his dog), he will be writing a book for a prestigious series – the New Edinburgh History of Scotland – before the general editor’s failure to deliver his volume becomes even more embarrassing than it already is.
For more information on Professor Mason’s teaching and publications, see his staff page.